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Oh the weather outside is frightful…..

As we begin to experience long cold winter days, and the holidays approach, besides planning the annual office holiday party, it is an ideal time for employers to complete a year end HR check up. The following is a year end checklist that any company may want to complete in whole or in part to ensure a happy and healthy HR new year!

  1. Employment Contracts

If your company is looking to update or introduce employment contracts to its employees the beginning of the year is a great time to do it. For an existing employee, to introduce a written employment agreement which may impose terms they were not subject to before either because they were not subject to a written employment agreement or their former agreement did not address a particular issue (i.e. a termination without cause provision), the employer needs to provide legal consideration to make the agreement binding. One of the easiest ways to do this is introduce an employment agreement when the employee is subject to getting a raise. The raise and promotion, if applicable, can act as the legal consideration. For new employees, it may be the appropriate time to introduce an updated employment agreement.

2. Vacation Policies

The end of the year is a good time to make sure your company is on top of its vacation policy to ensure employees have taken their vacation, bank and carry over their vacation (if applicable), and have received all their vacation pay as per the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”). It is also a good time to ensure those employees with 5 years or more of service as of the new year are set up to receive three weeks of vacation per year in accordance with the ESA.

3. Update Employee Handbooks or Policies

It is the perfect time of year to review, plan and update any applicable employment policies which a company may want to come into effect in the new year. Sometimes companies want to introduce new incentive plans, bonus policies, vacation policies, or even a dress code. There are a number of ways to roll out an updated employee handbook or policies. The key from an HR perspective is to document the delivery, review, and acknowledgement of each individual employee’s receipt of the updated material.

4. Performance Reviews / Evaluate Staffing Requirements

Perhaps it is already part of your year end process, but taking the time to conduct annual performance reviews is a great way to stay in touch with the productivity, efficiency and happiness of a company’s employees. Whether you have a formal performance review procedure in place or not, reviewing the past year of an employee can help the company consider appropriate promotions, managing performance issues, terminations, and future staffing requirements. The results of performance reviews may also be tied to variable incentive plans. In conducting the performance reviews, the preferred approach is to make it a positive experience for both the company and the employee, to focus on the positive and negative but to learn on how to improve from the negatives.

Just like an annual check up with your doctor, taking the time to ensure your HR house is in order once a year will lead to a healthy and productive company and hopefully workforce!